“The Ideal Ruins” C40 (Hylé Tapes)

 Do we call Takahiro Mukai prolific now? He’s released eight tapes in the past two years, among other things, so I think it’s safe to say he’s going through a creative streak. I’ve even reviewed him on this very blog before. I know you want to relive his Telly, Washer & Fridge release on Entertainment Systems, because we’re all in this together.

The Osaka musician has found a newish home for this release, our old standby Hylé Tapes (and dang, they’re the excellent-est). I wrote before about how Mukai’s music would be perfect for seasick, alternate-gravity-pressure dancefloors (or at least something along those lines), and he’s proving my intuitions right yet again. This is awesome dubby-steppy weirdness, if everything was coated in soap bubbles and slowed down to tub-drain speed. This is dance music for MOMA installations, and it only gets as fast and crazy as “#236” and “#244” allow it to. (Numbers only for TM’s song titles.)

Yeah, this is modern art as recognized and configured in sound waves, and it points to the future. Mukai’s harnessed his synthesizer rig and wrangled it into an abstract wilderness where East meets West in a psionic global showdown. He is the MC of the event, and he is only in our minds. We’re on the brink of total annihilation, and The Ideal Ruins is the soundtrack piped in from another reality to hasten the action.

Maybe that’s what he’s insinuating by his title, The Ideal Ruins, that we’re dancing in our reconfigured postapocalyptic bodies upon the grave of modern civilization. We’re beyond everything, and this is what’s left. Fortunately, Takahiro Mukai has survived to make everything a little more pleasant. Or maybe he was never actually here in the first place.

--Ryan Masteller

“Dithering Mornings” C25
(Night People)

Blurry nightcap coo
bedroom psychedelia
Reverbed delayed daze

Loosely just out of Tune/time?
I can’t tell if I can’t tell

Pretty please wear headphones
And/or crank up the decibel level.

There’s too much to miss out on.

Recommended if you’d like to hear a mash-up of early Clientele with Movietone, recorded in a cave by Liz Harris.


- - Jacob An Kittenplan

“Birth” C30
(Rok Lok Records)

There’s a certain kind of person who is able to enjoy a band/artist like Restaurnaut (definitely [sic]), but I am not that kind of person. In fact, I could barely get beyond track 1 before this thing bore into my skull like an unwanted parasite. The press describes Restaurnaut as “an indie jug band as it revels in playing a unique, hodge podge brand of bedroom pop that is as infectious as it is adventurous. With a ukulele, a drum machine, layers of vocals and touches of keyboard, Restaurnaut's Nick Dolezal creates a brand of lo-fi bedroom pop that has a folk ting at times.” Yeah, I like the sound of that OK – an indie jug band! I wish it were that simple. It’s just that the vocals are mixed so high that every little nuance and flaw is magnified so greatly that it’s impossible for me to enjoy. I do warn, this comes from a person who would rather not read lyrics – lyrics and vocals ruin a song far easier than instrumentation or recording technique. Best leave ’em cloaked in something, mix ’em down, or get rid of ’em altogether.

I did not like this tape. Doesn’t mean it’s not for you, you fan of “Furniture Huschle, Half Handed Cloud, and Charlie McAlister,” you. (Quote from press materials.)

--Ryan Masteller

"Ocean Maniacs EP” C20
(Gutter Loon Records)

This album is… unique, to say the least…

From the moment I listened to the title track I knew: this was going to be perhaps the strangest tape I’ll ever listen to. This album is definitely not for me. Most of the songs on this tape regard intercourse and everything that comes of having it, from STD’s to dangerous fetishes. The male vocals are raw and the sound quality is very poor, and the songs themselves (when judged from a ‘punk music' standard) are mostly mediocre at best. Each track is a little ditty that concerns a different aspect or problem involved with coitus. Here is a song-by-song analysis of each track:

Dick Cutter (1969): A repetitive annoying song about a vagina riddled with razor-blades. Need I say more? [2/10]

Herpes Monster: The subject of this song lies in its name. It’s not too bad, actually. It’s marginally catchy. [6/10]

Over The Edge: A short tune that’s nice to sing along to for the minute it lasts and expresses an adroit use of chords. [7/10]

Pussy Burner: Firstly, the male vocalist has no talent whatsoever. At least not on this track. His singing barely qualifies as “melodious speaking”. The chords don’t match the pitch of the singing. It’s repetitive and the lyrics are enough to make any good Christian squirm in discomfort. [2/10] because I’m sure something worse than this exists out in the world, something bad enough to qualify as a 1/10.

Monte Carlo Eagle: The vocals are awful and scratchy and probably have a bitrate of 2 kbps. It was difficult to understand anything and the instrumental could be put to better use, preferably with a better band.

Werewolf Ambulance: The more talented female vocalist is back, with a much catchier song. As long as you ignore the disturbing lyrics, I’m sure you will find yourself humming along to this tune. [7/10]

Ocean Maniacs: The lyrics are (gasp!) *not* extremely discomforting this time. The song itself is softer and much easier to listen to. [6/10]

Stars Hollow Maniac (Live at Seaworld): How they let this disgusting talentless singer play live anywhere blows my mind. Terrible track. Terrible singer. [3/10]

Then We Kiss (Live at Seaworld): Catchy! Very catchy! My favorite track on the tape. With some refinement (and the complete lesion of that horrendous tumor that is male vocalist) I feel like this song could be a hit in the punk genre! [8/10]

My main complaint is the appalling male singer. Most of the tracks he is featured on are terrible, terrible songs. The innuendo in this album pesters me as well, but for the most part I see some potential.

I rate this album in its entirety a 5/10.


-- Mansoor Syed

THE EARGOGGLE “Little Black Book”
(Very Special Recordings)

 It’s hard not to notice that The Eargoggle, a duo from Brooklyn, is heavily indebted to Ween, Jonathan Richman, and David Bowie, and that’s even before you press play on the tape, because their press says it, right there! I’m glad it did, actually – those are three of my favorite artists of all time, and anybody who incorporates their aesthetics and/or attitude into their music is OK by me. You don’t even have to sound like those guys – just huff that spirit and press record on your Tascam, which is what The Eargoggle did, if I’m not mistaken. Sweet, sweet inspirational huffing!

That playful attitude is right up front on wobbly opener “Tall,” where singer and songwriter Ezra Gale intones, “It doesn't matter at all when you're 8 feet tall, you can stand anywhere you like.” Yes! A song for people like me. He also says “I'm on fire today, don't think I want to put it out” (“Fire”). Score! Another song for people like me. Gale’s got the market cornered on 8-foot-tall flammable dudes. But he can be serious too, even if he can’t escape a little quirk here and there. So listening to Little Black Book in its entirety is an exercise in being surprised, whether it’s by the skronky stomp of “Continental Drift (For Alfred Wegener)” or the tenderness of the title track immediately following. The tape even ends on faux-disco number “You’re Feeling Like.” A faux-disco number!

You can pretend you’re not having a good time while you’re listening to The Eargoggle, but I’d call you a bald-faced liar as well as a creep and maybe even a menace to society. Every aspiring bedroom pop or weirdo outsider enthusiast with a 4-track should take a listen to this tape, because it’s done right. And you can even hear the Ween inspiration sometimes! More so the Richman influence, but whatever, it’s all good.

--Ryan Masteller

“Dire Deer/Night Runner” C9
(Very Special Recordings)

I’ve been listening to Birds of My Neighborhood by The Innocence Mission in my spare time (ha! Spare time? What spare time? I devote all my moments to tape reviews), and while Green and Glass don’t traffic in the same type of pastoral folk, it wouldn’t be out of the question for either band to share a stage or two with Sufjan Stevens. The Brooklyn quintet, fronted by Lucia Stavros, whose lovely vocals punctuate the orchestral indie pop found here, crafts gorgeous story-songs about singular people (“Lauren” on “Dire Deer” and “Seamus” on “Night Runner”), lending the songs an intimate quality in the vein of our favorite cheerleader enthusiast, Sufjan. (Does he still run around in the cheerleader getup?)

The music is just top notch – horns and harp add flavor to guitar and drums, and where “Dire Deer” builds to a vibrant crescendo, “Night Runner” remains meditative and pensive. Both songs are expertly crafted, though, and reach their catharses in different ways. But therein lies my issue with the tape. It’s a goddamn cassingle! See how easily I can become enraged? You’d think that’s out of character considering my Innocence Mission and Sufjan Stevens fetishes, but you’d be dead wrong! Dear Green and Glass, I would like to request a full-length album right now!

Just kidding about all that anger stuff. I just want more of what Green and Glass is peddling. You will too.

--Ryan Masteller